Two high profile sporting comebacks take place this month - for different reasons.

Tomorrow Sonny Bill Williams returns from injury to make his much awaited return to rugby and his debut for the Blues.

Sonny Bill last played a game of fifteen-a-side rugby at the 2015 World Cup final and has been off the field since last year's Olympics when he suffered an Achilles injury.

In two weeks Maria Sharapova returns to tennis in a more controversial return. The Russian will end a 15 months ban from the game after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.


The five-time Slam winner will make her comeback at the Stuttgart's Porsche Tennis Grand Prix on April 24.

Great comebacks...

Alfie Langer

He was the virtuso veteran who proved, in the deciding Origin match in 2001, that sporting fairy tales can come true. It seemed inconceivable at the time - the 35-year-old Allan Langer had left the NRL in 1999 to play in the English Super League, before Wayne Bennett persuaded him to return. It was a clandestine operation, with reports at the time suggesting the 165cm "Alfie" even boarded the plane to Australia under a false name.

Bennett backed his man but was also desperate - a year earlier the Maroons had suffered their worst ever defeat (56-16) in game three and he had lost skipper Gordon Tallis for the decider. Critics were unconvinced; Phil Gould wondered about the lack of depth north of the border, if they had to "bring back 35-year-olds to win".

The Little General made a nervous start to the most anticipated Origin clash ever, before setting up two early tries. He scored himself in the second half and Queensland romped to a 40-14 win and a cherished series victory.

The headline in Sydney's Daily Telegraph simply read "Bloody Alf". The success prompted Langer to restart his NRL career with the Broncos and he also played another year for Queensland, taking man of the match in the third game before retiring with 34 Origin caps and 10 tries to his name.

Niki Lauda
The reigning Formula One world champion had built a seemingly insurmountable lead in the 1976 standings, winning four of the season's first six races, when he crashed early in the German Grand Prix. His Ferrari burst into flames and Lauda was trapped in the wreckage, suffering severe burns to his head and lung damage.

Although he walked from the scene, he later fell into a coma, but returned to finish fourth at the Italian Grand Prix six weeks later. Despite the disfigurement suffered in the accident, Lauda only allowed enough reconstructive surgery to enable his eyelids to function normally. His scars and trademark cap remained with him the rest of his career. Although he narrowly lost the '76 championship to Briton James Hunt, Lauda captured his second title the following year and retired in 1979. Three years later, he returned and picked up his third world championship in 1984, before calling it quits 12 months later.

Michael Jordan

On March 18, 1995, Michael Jordan announced his return to the NBA with a two-word press release: "I'm back".

After dominating the basketball landscape for a decade and taking the concept of sports star marketing to dizzying new heights, No 23 had earlier shocked the sports world by chucking in the hoops to pursue a career in baseball. He eventually gave up the idea, returning to basketball.

Many questioned whether Jordan - who had led the Chicago Bulls to a three-peat of NBA titles from 1991-1993 - would be able to recapture his skills. It didn't take long for doubts to be erased, with Jordan leading the Bulls to another three-peat from 1996-1998. In the final game of the 1998 finals against Utah, with his team trailing 86-83 and 40 seconds left on the clock, Jordan scored from a lay-up, stripped Karl Malone and sank the winning basket - a perfect end to his career.

Failed comebacks...

Jordan, again

Jordan retired for a second time in 1999 before launching another comeback for the Washington Wizards two years later. He averaged more than 20 points during his two year stint with the Wizards but never reached the previous heights of his career and failed to earn Washington a playoff spot.

Muhammad Ali
One of the greatest athletes the world has seen, Ali retired from boxing after regaining the WBA heavyweight title from Leon Spinks in 1978. After two years on the sidelines an out-of-shape Ali re-laced his gloves at the age of 38 but was badly beaten by WBC title holder Larry Holmes. Holmes stopped Ali in the 10th round handing him his first defeat in a fight that didn't go the distance.

Ali attempted another comeback to the ring a year later losing to newcomer Trevor Berbick by unanimous decision, just his fifth professional defeat and the first time Ali lost two straight fights. It would be his last fight.

Stacey Jones
The 'Little General' was coaxed out of retirement by former Warriors coach Ivan Cleary at the end of 2008 to give the club more options at the troublesome halfback position during the 2009 season.

Jones put on a vintage performance in his first game back to beat defending premiers Manly but weaved little magic during the rest of the season as the Warriors finished 14th.

Bjorn Borg
Borg stunned the sporting world in 1983 when he retired at just 25 after hitting the peaks of tennis. The Swede won six French Open titles and five Wimbledon crowns before hanging up his Donnay racquet for the first time. He then made a doomed comeback eight years later when he tried the absurd idea of continuing with a wooden racquet. He never won another match in 10 miserable tournaments over two years.